Hobby Heresy: Necropolis Sellsword Challenge

This project is the creation of an undead sellsword for the first Necropolis Kitbash Challenge (details here). Rolling 3D10 on the Endless City Sellsword chart resulted in the prompt ‘Doomed Witch of Greed’. The optional extra table gave me ‘heralding from Greater Alcazar, wielding a ‘Branch of the Iron Tree’.

I chose to use Cleona Zeitengale from Cursed City for the base of my build. This model has a great hood and I already had a couple false starts kitbashing her into a necromancer (the first steps of trimming her headdress, collar and stakes off were done in November of 2021, and I was going to use her for Smashbash 2022 until I dropped an arm and couldn’t find it!). Then add leftover arms from the Deathrattle Skeletons kit, a collar cut from a Blood Knight torso, and feel the rest out from there. I really went back and forth about using a branch from the Dryads kit to use as a ‘Branch of the Iron Tree’ but they felt too thick and stubby for the delicate lines on the rest of the pieces. The ‘Branch of the Iron Tree’ would perhaps be the name of her weapon. (Edit: During the painting process I snapped the mace handle right half. Rather than attempt a repair that would almost certainly be noticeable, I went with the branch option!)

Before starting, I did a sketch to get a visual on the direction I was taking it. Not something I always do with a kitbash, but I was excited to see where this was going. Now to undead this model. The first steps were to remove her headdress, large collar, and the wooden stakes on her belt (what kind of undead monster would be running around with stakes!?!?). These cuts were done carefully with a jewelers saw to keep as much of the model intact as possible. Then any rough areas shaved down with a hobby knife and/or sanded.

Next up was her staff arm. The skeleton arms worked great for this build because they include left and right hand options, and some of them don’t have armor on the shoulders. I wanted to incorporate parts of her original gear back in too. The image I had in mind was the top of her staff with a skull set in place of the orb, attached to the spear shaft by a column of vertebrae. The end of an Ossiarch Bonereapers Arch-Kavalos spear had just the right bit. The blade was snipped off, then carved out between the bones. The front part of the orb was cut off with the jewelers saw, same with the skull. Luckily the skull was about the same size as the orb. The bottom portion of the staff head was carefully carved down to fit into the gap in the bones. Once a pretty good fit was achieved a liberal amount of Tamiya Extra-thin cement was applied between the pieces. I then like to wiggle and scoot the parts a bit as the plastic melts to get the fit a little tighter and fuse more surface together. Same with the skull. The bottom of the spinal column had a hole drilled into it, and the top of the spear haft was shaved down to fit into the hole. More plastic cement and wiggling to fit. (Tip: Put the sharp point of a hobby knife into the center point of where you want to drill and turn it to make a small divot to seat the drill in. Much easier to center a hole that way.)

The next phase was creating the exposed rib cage. To begin with I cut apart the torso of a GW 2008 Skeleton Warrior with my jewelers saw. First in half along the sternum, then cut the front of ribs from the back. On the Cleona torso I made cuts to the depth I wanted along the edge of her strap and hood. A second cut was made at the bottom of her chest close to the same depth, then turned upward to meet the first cuts. Making a turn with the saw in depth of plastic while pushing can lead to snapping the blade, so I slowly turn the blade while making a sawing motion before attempting to push into new material. Once the chest was cleared off I made small trimming cuts to the rib cage pieces until they fit to my liking.

Next came removing the face from her hood. I probably could have just drilled out the face and slid a trimmed down skull into the cavity, but in order to get as close as fit to her original face I opted to remove the back of the hood and fit the skull from the back. There was a fold in the cloth that I followed with the jewelers saw with the aim of leaving an easy to repair gap and also to come just behind the face (left three pictures). To get the saw through the open space of the hood I detached one end of the blade, slid it through, then reattached it. From there I cut out face, then cleaned up the inner hood with a hobby knife.

The skull I chose to use is also from the 2008 Skeleton Warriors kit. This one already came missing the back of its skull, so it was less work to trim down. To begin with I cut the back side and top of the skull off. I trimmed and test fit until it could sit in the way I wanted, and it was glued into the hood. Then a trimmed down piece of vertebrae from the original skeleton torso was fit in below where the head would be. This was also trimmed down after the photo and test fitting, then glued to the cutoff back section of head. Once that was done the back of the head was glued onto the front hood part. A lot of extra thin cement and some wiggling made a tight join. From there the seam was shaved down with a hobby knife, then sanded with a couple sanding sticks till smooth. Only a small gap remained where the glue had melted away thin plastic, later to be filled with greenstuff.

For the right arm I cut off the spear tip, and the haft below the hand. Using the jewelers saw the mace head was cut from Cleonas staff, then drilled. The hole was widened at the bottom with a round pointed diamond file, and the end of the spear was shaved down to fit snugly in the mace head. A pommel cut from the Arch-Kavalos spear was added to the bottom of the mace handle. Again drilled and the hole widened to fit over the haft. All glued with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement.

Next I did a collar and used paperclip pins for arm attachment points. The collar was cut from a Soulblight Gravelords Blood Knight as part of a different project. It was cut off with the jewelers saw and I trimmed down the back of Cleona and the collar piece to get a smooth fit. It was glued with Tamiya extra thin. (After taking some pictures I didn’t like the angle of the collar, so I snapped it off and trimmed it to follow the lines already on the back of torso.) The arms were glued to the pins using Loctite Gel Control. I used pins so I could better control the angle of the arms. Holes were drilled in the shoulders for attaching. (Tip: When drilling thin material you don’t want to drill all the way through, watch for the plastic on the outside turning white. This tells you the drill is almost through.) Also in the below image is a small sack (full of Mummy Dust?) from the Grave Guard kit. There was a knife I trimmed off, then cut down the back to make it thinner.

From here it’s was ready for greenstuff gap filling and detailing. Gaps were filled between arms and body, around some spots in ribs, between head of staff and spine, stomach. The transition between back and collar was bridged and slightly sculpted to link the lines between back and ridges on collar. I made a bit of belt to continue across her waist to the book satchel. For this I used some dried greenstuff that had been rolled as thinly as possible, and carefully cut it to match her existing belt. Then glued it on with super glue. (Not easy!) After attaching the belt I also glued on a jawbone/femur bit (also from Grave Guard I think). Did a little trimming behind jaw with a hobby knife to fit right over belt.

That’s the finished build! As previously mentioned, I accidentally snapped the mace while painting, so overcoming my reluctance, I replaced it with a branch from the dryad sprue. The branch was trimmed down and some of the bulkier sections (particularly where it branches) were shaved down to give it a little more natural feel. Just like the mace and staff heads, a hole was drilled in the branch big enough to slide over the haft. In the end I’m happy with its resulting look.

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